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by Access Group | March 10, 2009


Nearly all federal, state, and some university aid is awarded according to a student's need. A student's need is calculated by completing a need analysis form, such as the FAFSA. This form is used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), based on such things as income, assets, and dependents, among other things. The EFC is the amount the student and/or family is expected to contribute to the cost of education.

First, your financial aid administrator calculates the Cost of Attendance (COA), which includes, among other things, tuition, books, and living expenses. The administrator then subtracts the EFC from the COA.

Next, your administrator also must consider other sources of aid you are expected to receive, such as grants and scholarships, and subtract that from the COA. Whatever amount is left makes up your financial need.

To fill that financial need, you may need to take out federal or private student loans.


    Eligibility for the Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan is need-based.

    Eligibility for the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and private loans are calculated without using the EFC.

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Filed Under: Education|Grad School